A piece of legislation on the table in New Jersey would establish more consumer protection with regards to online casino accounts that remain inactive for an extended period of time.
On Jan. 14, a proposal was introduced to the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee that would address patron accounts that are considered “dormant.” Under existing law, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has the authority to set a time period for which accounts are deemed inactive or dormant. According to New Jersey online gambling regulations, an operator can deem an account dormant if it’s inactive for a year. That’s the same time frame in Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry.
Online casinos do have some discretion when it comes to determining what constitutes inactivity under their respective terms and conditions.
Under the legislation, Assembly Bill 567, the period would be set at three years. Additionally, any patron money would become unclaimed property under the Uniform Unclaimed Property Act. Under existing law, amounts in these inactive or dormant accounts for the period determined by the DGE are paid 50% to the casino licensee and 50% to the state’s Casino Control Fund. Casinos are already required to make attempts to contact the account holder before the account is closed and the money is forfeited.
According to the New Jersey Unclaimed Property Administration website, funds would be available to be claimed indefinitely after the account is closed. In other words, there’s no expiration date. “[T]he UPA only acts as a custodian until the property is returned,” states the website.
NJ, PA could become more similar
Pennsylvania online gambling regulations state that online casinos must report abandoned funds from dormant accounts in accordance with rules and regulations on abandoned and unclaimed property set forth by the Pennsylvania Treasury’s Bureau of Abandoned and Unclaimed Property.
It appears the New Jersey legislation AB 567 would establish a consumer protection rule that would bring the Garden State in line with the Keystone State. New Jersey kicked off online casino gambling in 2013, while Pennsylvania didn’t start until mid-2019.
AB 567 is a second attempt at the new law, as a bill introduced in 2018 failed to gain traction. The current proposal is spearheaded by the same policymakers.
New Jersey-sanctioned online casinos won $482.6 mm from players in 2019. There’s no publicly available data on money that went to the casinos and state due to dormant accounts closures.
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